the mighty mekong

January 28, 2009

Vientiane, Laos January 23rd-27th



It is so quiet here…quiet and calm and warm. They do have motor scooters but nowhere near as many and they don’t have the urge to announce their presence incessantly. Bliss.

We are in Vientiane, capital of Laos, staying in a quirky hotel which is a mixture of 70s kitsch, art deco and Thai hippy influence. Suits us fine.

Breakfast – in the Spirit House which is part of our hotel – the sun warming us, gentle breeze blowing, freshly squeezed orange juice, water melon, papaya , pineapple, banana and dragon fruit, croissants, toast, coffee – as we sit overlooking the mighty Mekong (well, not so mighty at present as it’s the dry season, but you get the picture.) Bliss again.

We have visited Buddhist temples and made a young monk very happy when he realised his photo would be seen in a school near Manchester. “United” he beamed. We soon put him right.

The people are friendly and quietly religious, they all have shrines at the front of their homes/shops and they give food to the monks for their breakfast so they get good karma. There are so many beautiful golden yellow Buddhas in so many temples ….one has over 6,000 statues and statuettes in little niches in the walls. We had an exciting journey to a Buddha Sculpture Park , we avoided being pressured into a taxi or tuk tuk and made lots of very close friends on a very crowded bus. ….seriously, people are so pleasant and cheerful and the children are absolutely gorgeous.

There are restaurant huts dotted all along the banks of the Mekong (which flooded last year, sandbags still in evidence) they are lit up in the evening and people sit and watch the sunset over the river. Looks lovely. We discovered a wonderful place with excellent, cheap food….we celebrated Eddie’s birthday there with cocktails, vegetable curry and ice cold Laos Beer .

We met a weirdly fascinating/obnoxious/ultimately repulsive american misogynist but I can’t possibly write about him here…. X rated details.

Did you know that there were more bombs dropped on Laos and Vietnam in the 2ndWW than there were on Europe? And that there are still lots of landmine accidents because so many cluster bombs were dropped round here? Nasty stuff. Americans do come on trips back here just like British soldiers go to France , we were told that a lot of secret service men returned as there were a lot of dodgy secret missions setting out from near Vientiane.

So, a pleasant rest but Bangkok beckons and I am a little apprehensive……humid, hot and heaving is my guess!


2 Responses to “the mighty mekong”

  1. Becca (M) Says:

    Laos sounds wonderful! I would love to go – definitely on my list of places to go! I hope that the Bangkok part of the trip goes well – since you all are not going to Chiang Mai – definitely go to one of the Bangkok night markets – super cool! Will write an email soon!

  2. Ruth Says:

    Hi. I know it is nearly March now but I am quite behind reading your blog !!!All is well. Two friend of ours (same age) have just returned from backpacking in Laos!! They also went to Vientiane and had a wonderful time even though Margaret had a cracked rib!
    Stay safe XX

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